top-rated free essay

Catherine of Aragon

By KristenB Sep 09, 2006 1051 Words
Catherine of Aragon
Did you know that Henry VIII had six wives? Several ended up beheaded or somehow charged for a crime they did not commit. Catherine of Aragon was the first and longest reigning wife of Henry VIII. She ruled more years than all of Henry's wives put together (Wikipedia int). Their marriage was annulled after her failure to produce a male heir as Henry believed that a strong monarchy depended on a male heir (World History 336). Catherine of Aragon reigned as queen consort of England for twenty-four years.

Catherine of Aragon was born in Alaciá de Hendres on December 16, 1485. She was the youngest surviving child of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. Catherine was the third-great-granddaughter of Edward III of England. She was a fourth cousin of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York (Wikipedia int).

Catherine's first marriage was to Prince Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII, on November 14, 1501 at Saint Paul's. England needed an alliance with the Spanish royal family; so Arthur, Prince of Wales, was promised to Catherine in the Treaty of Medina del Campo in 1489 (Who's Who int). Shortly after their marriage, both fell to an infection. On April 2, 1502, Arthur died. Because their marriage had never been consummated, Pope Julius II issued a dispensation.

After Arthur's death, Catherine was not allowed to return to Spain. She was used as a pawn of Henry VII. Catherine was left in Europe with no money and consequently fell into debt. Upon the death of his wife, Henry VII suggested that he should marry Catherine. Isabella was so shocked at the idea that she agreed to Catherine's engagement instead to Henry VIII. Though Catherine was not allowed to see Henry often, she continued to work to maintain the Anglo-Spanish alliance (Who's Who int).

Catherine of Aragon married Henry VIII on June 11, 1509 and was crowned queen on June 24 (Who's Who int). Catherine was extremely popular with the people of England; although, after many years of marriage, she became increasingly unpopular with her husband (Wikipedia int). Henry was unfaithful; but because she was treated respectfully, his cheating was ignored. Catherine was expected to produce a male heir to the throne of England. Catherine endured six pregnancies between 1510 and 1518 (Who's Who int). After one still born, two miscarriages, and two short-lived sons, they were left with one surviving child- Mary I (Wikipedia int).

Overtime Catherine's marriage to Henry VIII began to deteriorate. There were many factors in their marriage troubles. One main factor was Catherine's failure to produce a male heir. Henry feared that because the Tudor dynasty was new, their legitimacy might be tested. There was no tradition of a successful ruling queen (Wikipedia int). Because of their lack of heirs, Henry believed that his marriage was cursed. Proof of his belief is stated in this exert from an online encyclopedia: Because of the lack of heirs, Henry began to believe that his marriage was cursed and sought confirmation from two verses of the biblical Book of Leviticus, which said that, if a man marries his brother's wife, the couple will be childless. He chose to believe that Catherine had lied when she said her marriage to Arthur had not been consummated, therefore making their marriage wrong in the eyes of God. (Wikipedia int)

Henry was also infatuated with Anne Boleyn. Because of his father-in-law's deceit, he questioned his desire for a Spanish alliance (Who's Who int). Henry asked Pope Clement VII to annul his marriage in 1527. Henry separated from Catherine in July 1531 and secretly married Anne Boleyn in January 1533 (Wikipedia int). After seven years of stalling, the English Church made a ruling on Catherine's marriage to Henry VIII. To Henry's disappointment on March 23, 1534, their marriage was declared legal (Who's Who int). On May 23, 1533, Henry had Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, to annul the marriage himself (Wikipedia int). Henry then had Parliament to pass the Act of Supremacy "repudiating Papal jurisdiction in England, making the king the head of the English church, and beginning the English reformation" (Wikipedia int).

After her divorce, Catherine was commanded to abandon the title queen. She was pressured to say marriage was illegitimate from the start, and she refused to accept the Act of Supremacy. She was moved from house to house and her daughter was forbidden to visit (Who's Who int). Mary I was also declared illegitimate. Catherine of Aragon died on January 7, 1536 at Kembolton Castle from a form of cancer. Henry did not attempt and Princess Mary was not allowed to attend her funeral (Wikipedia int). Throughout all the pain, Catherine retained her feelings for Henry. Her last letter to him said, "Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things" (Wikipedia int). Henry's feeling for Catherine were clearly expressed through his response after receiving the news of her death, "God be praised, the old harridan is dead" (Who's Who int).

Catherine of Aragon was a strong woman. Throughout her entire ordeal, she remained "Henry's loyal subject, she would obey him in everything, except she would not disobey God and her conscience" (Who's Who int). She was a woman of great intellect. Thomas Cromwell said, "Nature wronged the queen in not making her a man. But [sic] for her sex she would have surpassed all the heroes of history" (Who's Who int). Catherine reigned with much respect from the English people. Though her funeral service was due to a Princess Dowager (the title given to her after Prince Arthur's death), not a queen, Catherine is still revered as a great Queen of England for her twenty-four years of service.

Works Cited
Evans, Charlotte, ed. History of the World. New York: Kingfisher, 1992. 351. Miller, Sue, ed. World History People and Nations. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and
Winston, 2000. 336.
"Catherine of Aragon." Who's Who in British History. 1998: int. Wilson Biographies. Magnolia. Warren Central H.S. Lib., Vicksburg, MS. 31 Jan. 2006 . "Catherine of Aragon." Wikipedia. 10 Feb. 2006

.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • catherine d'aragon

    ...Catherine of Aragon is the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile and Leon and descended maternally and paternally from English kings. Her marriage to Prince Arthur Tudor of Wales aims at sealing a diplomatic alliance between Spain recently unified and England, that both have the French for enemies. Arthur is destin...

    Read More
  • Do you agree with the view expressed in source three that the diplomatic situation was the main reason for Henry’s failure to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine by 1529?

    ...Do you agree with the view expressed in source three that the diplomatic situation was the main reason for Henry’s failure to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine by 1529? We can clearly see that there is more than one reason why Henry wanted to gain an annulment to Catherine in 1529, and that it wasn’t purely down to reas...

    Read More
  • Catherine of Aragon

    ...Catherine of Aragon born 1485 died 1536 Catherine was born into a family of royalty, of Kings and Queens. She was destined to be a Queen herself but it wasn’t her choice that she got to marry that was up to her father King Ferdinand and her mother Queen Isabel of Aragon, Spain. They talked to King Henry VII of England. A treaty was made, de...

    Read More
  • ‘Henry VIII’s decision to divorce Catherine of Aragon came about primarily as a result of political reasons’. How far do you agree with this statement?

    ... ‘Henry VIII’s decision to divorce Catherine of Aragon came about primarily as a result of political reasons’. How far do you agree with this statement? Henry VIII officially decided to divorce Catherine of Aragon in 1527. This was because of many reasons, for instance, spiritual implications and a new female in his life, Anne Boleyn....

    Read More
  • Wuthering Catherine and Thrushcross Catherine

    ...tumultuous events. This is proved by Catherine, who acts like two different people at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Catherine lives at both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange during her life, and when at Wuthering Heights, she is bold, unmanageable and untamed. Nelly describes the unruly young Catherine saying, ". . . I ne...

    Read More
  • The Sinking of the Aragon

    ...Sinking of the Aragon With the outbreak of world one war the royal mail moved its home port to Newport, South Wales. However the Brittish government was in dire need of battle ships to strengthen their naval force. Many ships were converted from simply postal delivery vessels into war ready troop carrying ships. One of these ships was the Arago...

    Read More
  • Catherine the Great

    ...What were the consequences of Catherine the Great's reforms for the Russian gentry? Catherine II (Catherine the Great) ascended the throne in 1762, and therefore Russia also begun a great time in its history in regards to reforms that the empress put into place during her reign. Catherine created reforms- internal and external- such as polit...

    Read More
  • Catherine the Great

    ...Life of Catherine the Great What would be your thoughts, at fourteen years old, if you discovered that everyone was pressuring you to marry an unaffectionate, immature prince? Princess Sophia Augusta Fredericka was put into this situation when Empress Elizabeth of Russia sent for her to become the bride of her nephew and heir, Peter III. Sop...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.